Isolated and Left Behind
by Susan Milligan
September 29, 2017
Mahina had to sleep under a bridge a couple of nights because she had no other place to go. Both times, she awoke to the sight of men standing over her, looking at her menacingly. On another night, she slept “under the stars” on Las Vegas Boulevard, also known as The Strip, and was awakened by a man asking her to perform sexual favors for $15. Finding a place to use the bathroom is tough. Finding an affordable place to live is harder, especially when one is unemployed. And Mahina, as a transgender woman, recalls that common moment, when she’s sitting in a waiting room and someone holding her resume calls out her male birth name. She approaches, and the interviewer says, “Is this you?” with an expression of confusion or distaste. And, after that, the interview almost never goes as hoped, she says.
“We’re fetishized. We’re not viewed as real people. We have people making laws about using the bathroom – something as simple as using the bathroom” is a daily challenge for transgender people, Mahina (who asked that her full name not be used) says from her temporary home at a Salvation Army-run homeless shelter in Las Vegas. “Every day we walk out the door, we never know what’s going to happen.”